Johnson says it’s not time to panic

1. At his Tuesday news conference, coach Paul Johnson offered an analysis of the season that acknowledged that it’s missed the mark thus far but asserted that it’s not time to panic.

“Certainly, the year has not gone the way that we would have liked or envisioned to this point,” he said. “But sometimes, it happens.”

Johnson noted that Tech has led in the fourth quarter of all five of its ACC games, three of which it lost, Virginia Tech, Miami and Clemson.

“It’s not like we’ve rolled out there and gotten steamrolled by people,” he said. (Middle Tennessee State explanation is down below) “We just haven’t finished and haven’t won the game.”

He pointed out that “you can make a really good case that we had a great chance” to beat both Virginia Tech and Miami. Tech led both games going into the final minute but lost both in overtime.

“If you win those two games, you’re probably looking at a whole different scenario,” he said. “But if if’s and but’s were candy and nuts … We didn’t get it done. And sometimes that happens. I don’t think you panic and throw the baby out with the bathwater all because you didn’t (finish).”

I believe there’s some validity to what he’s saying. If Tech had won both of those games, and it’s hard to argue that they weren’t entirely winnable, the Jackets would be 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the ACC and in control of their fate in the Coastal Division. You could also make the case that Tech wouldn’t have lost to Middle Tennessee State if it hadn’t absorbed such a devastating loss to Miami seven days prior.

That loss, Johnson made no excuse for, saying “we no-showed, bottom line.” For the sake of argument, let’s give the Jackets that game. That makes Tech 6-2 and conceivably ranked.

On the other hand, it doesn’t explain the defensive lapses, and perhaps BYU would still have drummed Tech by 24 points at home. Johnson noted that BYU is “pretty dang good,” could finish 8-4 and that three losses will be to No. 3 Notre Dame (by three points on the road), No. 11 Oregon State (a game that was tied going into the fourth quarter) and No. 19 Boise State (7-6 on the road).

You could make the case that maybe Tech would have played with more confidence or spirit if it had been 6-1 going into that game, but then you could also say that BYU would have been all the more fired up to play a ranked team on the road and that maybe the defense might have made more mistakes had Al Groh still been the coordinator. (Johnson said defensive mental errors were “probably half of what we would normally have.” The problem Saturday, on top of getting stuck with disadvantageous field position, was a lot of missed tackles.)

Losing by 24 points at home and not scoring an offensive touchdown is hard to argue around. Even if all the if’s and but’s were true and BYU had been 7-1 and in the top 10, a 24-point home loss to anyone is something of a statement.

This all makes me think of a few things. One, you can play this game the other way, too. Johnson’s signature win, the 2008 defeat of Georgia, could well have gone the Bulldogs’ way with one play. But for a few plays in 2009, Tech could have lost to Clemson (three-point margin of victory), Florida State (five points), and Wake Forest (three points, overtime) and Clemson again in the ACC title game (five points), although none of those teams had those games in the bag like Tech seemingly did the Virginia Tech and Miami games.

That said, I don’t think that Johnson’s point is that Tech should have a better record – as he acknowledged that “we didn’t get it done,” – but rather that the team isn’t the jalopy that some (most?) think.

“It’d be a lot more concerning if we were trotting our butt out and getting beat 56-3 or 41-7 and you were never in the game and you never had a chance,” Johnson said, coming narrowly close to reciting the score of the BYU game. “Then you might be looking at wanting to make some changes in what you were doing and the way you were approaching and all that. In my mind, anyway. We’re not that far away.”

Two, something I’ve heard Johnson say a number of times is “That’s why you play the games.” I’m not sure anyone saw this coming, and I don’t know that, if you rewind the season to Sept. 3, it would turn out again the way it has. Maybe it would.

Three, it’s hard to not feel like something is missing. I asked Johnson what the team’s personality was, and after saying that he thought the team has “probably got some different personalities,” noted that the team is young. There’s 12 seniors on the roster, six of whom start.

“So at times we have a hard time staying focused,” he said. “The maturity level is probably not what you would like all the time.”

He went on further to say that problems with focus can happen game to game or even series to series, noting how off the team was in the second half of the Boston College game.

“Momentum is a big deal, especially with a young team,” he said. “It’s a big deal and when things don’t go well early, they can get down really quick.”

I imagine that strikes some as an excuse. Maryland is even younger than Tech, although it starts more seniors, and has had to deal with four quarterbacks going down with season-ending injuries.

“I think our team has handled all the situations pretty well,” Maryland coach Randy Edsall said.

He noted that the Terrapins haven’t finished the last two games as well as he would want – perhaps being down to the fourth-string quarterback was a factor – and added that players are giving great effort.

On the other hand, N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said that with teams with few seniors, “there isn’t that sense of urgency” because underclassmen know they have seasons left to play. At this point of the year, he said, when seniors realize there’s only four games left in their career, “it picks up the whole football team.”

It’s hard to not think something is missing with this team. It’s possible, maybe even likely, the paucity of seniors is a factor. A shortage of playmakers is another. Obviously, the pass rush hasn’t measured up, nor has the offensive line. While it’s contributed plays, special teams has been leaky. The secondary hasn’t lived up to its billing.

In looking at a quote from the 2009 Wake Forest game story, a quote from Johnson stuck out.

“We found a way to win in the end,” he said.

There’s a lot to point a finger at. However, they might still all be warts even if the team were 5-3 or 6-2, but, right or wrong, we probably wouldn’t be dwelling on them so heavily. As Johnson often says, but remarkably didn’t say Tuesday, things are rarely as good or as bad as they seem.

I’m not sure how much I agree or disagree. But I don’t think Johnson is entirely off base.

2. And, also, Johnson said “we’re committed to playing Vad (Lee). A lot of it’s going to depend on practice, and I talked to both of them yesterday (Monday) and they understand the situation. They both have got to get ready to play and as the week goes on, we’ll figure out how we’re going to do it.”

That’s all you were really interested in, right?

In case you missed it…

Notes: B-backs struggling to produce

Notes: Johnson mum on starting quarterback

Thanks for reading.

233 comments Add your comment

Booze Hound

October 31st, 2012
12:25 pm

Hope Johnson’s gone before next season.

headley lamar

October 31st, 2012
12:27 pm

I agree 100 percent.

Tech could easily be 5 and 3.

And hey if they hadn’t lost in OT to Miami they beat Middle Tenn

Then your 5-0 against Clemson. Well lets say for argument sake that being 5-0 motivated Tech. And they pulled one out in OT against Clemson.

Now your 6-0. That means 7-0 when playing BYU.

Maybe then that game would have been on a bigger network and played at a different time.

Could have changed everything. So now you win that and are 8-0.

Now your in the TOP 5 in the BCS and looking like and ACC champ with a BCS bowl on the horizon.

Man what could have been. Tech was so close this year.

www

October 31st, 2012
12:39 pm

panic? no.

worry about the pattern demonstrated? yes.

www

October 31st, 2012
12:40 pm

heady llamar/boozyhoun, your obsession with georgia tech fooball is nice to see. we need more fans like you!

Too late for him to say that...

October 31st, 2012
12:41 pm

…for most people on this site –

BUT, he is absolutely correct! With the ACC division Tech is in being so down this year the team is not even out of the division championship picture despite their dismal showings to date. They can still win the division, and ON ANY GIVEN SATURDAY they might even beat FSU or Clemson or NC State in the ACC Championship game –

Wouldn’t that send the panickers into a new round of panic – that CPJ will NOT be replaced and the O which they hate so much will be here for at least 3 more years, or until CPJ gets tired of all the “panic”…

StingerSplash

October 31st, 2012
12:42 pm

Look at what’s transpired the last couple of seasons in and after the Virginia Tech games.
Jackets lead in Blacksburg, going in for a kill score, throw a pick, 9 breaks his arm, Hokies come back to win and Jackets struggle down the stretch.
Last year, Tech has the upper hand, is about to force a punt with Hokies backed up deep in own territory, gets a stupid personal foul (and just where has Mr. Attaochu been this season? For someone to have been such an impact player, he’s … been kinda absent from many big plays, no?), Hokies drive stays alive and they eventually come back and win. Tech staggers down the stretch after that.
This year, Tech bungles through three quarters, plays a great fourth quarter to take the lead, can’t hold it and loses game in overtime and the season has turned south since then.
It’s mighty odd how these losses to Va Tech have set the tone for the rest of the season for Ga Tech.

GT Fan

October 31st, 2012
12:43 pm

D played good vs. VT, (Pres -duh), and UVA. Didn’t look good in the 1st Qtr vs. Miami, but settled down and stopped the U unitl the 4th. That’s the point where GT’s D has seemed to have forgotten how to play the game of football.

It’s baffling how bad (BC excluded) they’ve played since the 4th qtr of the Miami game.

George Stein

October 31st, 2012
12:45 pm

No one should be panicked because the season is cooked.

I do think there’s a high level of randomness in the outcomes of close games, though.

Booze Hound

October 31st, 2012
12:46 pm

www,

I am a Georgia Tech fan.

www

October 31st, 2012
12:47 pm

vt is the consistent winner in less than favorable circumstances (blacksburg, anyone?) that georgia tech should aspire to be.

Reggie's Balls

October 31st, 2012
12:51 pm

He’s right… Not time to panic, its time to get a new coach.

George Stein

October 31st, 2012
12:51 pm

As for that UGA game in 2008, if Stafford had not found found Morgan Burnett wide open – I mean, he was totally uncovered! – UGA would have won then, too.

headley lamar

October 31st, 2012
12:52 pm

heady llamar/boozyhoun, your obsession with georgia tech fooball is nice to see. we need more fans like you!

Your welcome.

I dont post as often as I used to but I will do what I can.

George Stein

October 31st, 2012
12:52 pm

Who should we hire, Booze Hound?

Reggie's Balls

October 31st, 2012
12:55 pm

www- Va. Tech is a mediocre 4 and 4 in a bad conference. Is that what GA Tech should aspire to??

GT Fan

October 31st, 2012
1:03 pm

Johnson says it’s not time to panic
12:19 pm October 31, 2012, by Ken Sugiura
————————————-
Unfortunately Johnson says lots of other things that don’t turn out to be truths:
1. 2011- said how good Tony Zenon is. Based on that praise, TZ doesn’t play nearly enough.
2. 2011 – said Bback no problem & he’d be surprised if Bback didn’t gain 1,000+ ALL 4, combined, gained 1163 (includes P.Lyons’ 138 in Sun Bowl). Otherwise, the primary, Sims, gained 698.
3. 2012 – said OL was his best since being at GT. If true then they should be making the subpar BB’s look better than they are. Pass blocking is bad too.
4. 2012 – said Synjyn Days was too good to be standing on sidelines. Thru 8 games SD has 7 carries for 32 yds & 1 td.

btgt69

October 31st, 2012
1:05 pm

just beat uga

GT Fan

October 31st, 2012
1:11 pm

Maryland’s D is very good. They have made maybe the biggest improvement in the NCAA from year 1 to 2 with their 3-4 D.

If the Turtles’ D really is as good as the #s say they are (better than BYU’s), and seeing that GT’s O only produced at FG vs. the Cougars, are we looking at a 3-0 game?

Nothing would surprise me this coming Saturday. UM’s got nothing to lose. Will they go for it on every 4th down (assuming GT’s D can stop them the 1st 3 downs)?
Will there be triple reverses, halfback passes, fake punts/FGs?
Will their ALL-World Freshman (Stefan Diggs) obliterate GT’s KO return unit? BYU’s guy had 129 yds on 3 returns.

TechApp fan

October 31st, 2012
1:11 pm

Johnson took steps to improve the insufficient D.
Hopefully, he will take steps to utilize the pass more often. Does that mean a different QB….don’t know. Perhaps more passing would improve the B back production…if the other team thought Tech might pass….again, don’t know.

does the ajc page drop letters when you guys type?

Yella Jacquet

October 31st, 2012
1:13 pm

Enough with “what if’s” and “could haves”. Tech flat out sucks and will as long as Coach Moody Britches continues to recruit sub-par talent. You might be able to get away with it on offense considering the the style he runs, but we need talent on D.

As far as “just beat uga”: get your head out of the sand and admit, it ain’t happening this year.

Jacket Dad

October 31st, 2012
1:15 pm

No time to panic? Maybe not for us fans, but for you Coach Johnson, I’d like to see you in one! I’ve tried to support you and realize with GT it is what it is. However, we can play “what if’s” all day long.

What if we had a more balanced attack on offense? What if Johnson cared 1/2 as much about defense as he does about offense? What if he cared about special teams – when you play at our level, they can make or break you? What if, after every game, we didn’t read that “the guys just came out flat” or “we just weren’t ready”? What if the Jackets actually played with passion and fire for 4 quarters? (Clemson game last year!) What if GT had coaches that could recruit and inspire players?

Yep Coach Johnson, I still support you because you are our coach. But you won’t be much longer unless you make some major changes. I’m not sure that is possible, But at $2.6 a year, I think you better start…..your contract is honestly pretty much the only reason you are still around.

GT Joe

October 31st, 2012
1:16 pm

And, also, Johnson said “we’re committed to playing Vad (Lee). A lot of it’s going to depend on practice, and I talked to both of them yesterday (Monday) and they understand the situation. They both have got to get ready to play and as the week goes on, we’ll figure out how we’re going to do it.”

WHAT?! Tevin is going to get in the game?!?!

Ummm, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m PANICKING.

GT Fan

October 31st, 2012
1:18 pm

Stein … not sure if he’d leave the West, but I’m a transplant ATL’n living here in Utah, and the best coach nobody has heard of down South resides about a 2 hr drive North of the Salt Lake City Temple in Logan, UT.

He’s Gary Anderson – Utah State head coach.

NCJacket

October 31st, 2012
1:19 pm

Not time to panic but the trend is worrisome. If the trend continues then we have 4 years to say ok enough is enough. I for one think he is a good offensive coach and decent head coach. Probably as good as we can get. We need a defense with a coordinator that can compete. We are not a football school and should accept 7-5 and 8-4 as good years. Because we live on the edge though every once in a while we will have seasons like this. Our talent is as good as K State and every once in a while we will get lucky and win an ACC championship. Time to respect the seniors and let them pl;ay but also get in the guys who we will depend on next year because we will not have that extra month of practice with a bowl.

GT_NGA

October 31st, 2012
1:21 pm

Thanks Ken, good article.

Reggie's Balls

October 31st, 2012
1:22 pm

What about Nick Saban or Les Miles?

bb

October 31st, 2012
1:22 pm

beat UGA and all would be forgiven, but alas, it ain’t gonna happen……wishful thinking!

tech fan

October 31st, 2012
1:24 pm

Just thought about it, the B back in this offense runs a dive( up the middle between center and guard) every run play. Remember when Dwyer was breaking all those long runs. Those were the days.

www

October 31st, 2012
1:27 pm

@ retarded reggie baller

“www- Va. Tech is a mediocre 4 and 4 in a bad conference. Is that what GA Tech should aspire to??”

wow. your football memory is as long as … well, let’s leave your girlfriend’s complaints about your anatomy out of this. let’s just say you don’t sound like a knowledgeable football fan.

here ya go, troll – learn something new today:

“Tech currently holds the nation’s longest streak of 10+ win seasons at 8 and have a combined record since the 2004 season of 65-16-0, 3rd best to only Boise State and LSU”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Tech_Hokies_football

so tell me again about how VT is not a consistent winner and not a program that GT should emulate?

wrecked again

October 31st, 2012
1:30 pm

49-28 , 47-31, 41-17 not just losing but getting blown out , another at best #49 recruiting class , this is PJ with PJ player. where else but under Pj would Godhigh, Laskey, Washington, any of the WR’s be on anything other than a scout team?

CT_Jacket

October 31st, 2012
1:34 pm

PJ isn’t going anywhere with a $10M buyout and no AD until next year. However, his contract won’t get rolled over either, so the countdown begins. However, good coaches always rebound. Look at Richt from two years ago. The only major change he made was to get a new DC and a Strength coach and now he has a talented junior QB. His recruiting class rankings stayed the same. He still loses to SC but won a close one vs UF in an ugly game, but they still won. Now they are in position to win the division. Worse case scenario, they get killed in the SECCG and lose their bowl game.

I think PJ gets at least two more years. He’ll have a new DC. His strength coach will have two more years to get results. Lee will be a Junior. If he can make a similar turnaround as Richt, then we’ll know if he is a good coach.

Reggie's Balls

October 31st, 2012
1:36 pm

www- They have that record because they play in the ACC, what has that gotten them on a National Level??? Nothing….. It doesn’t translate. When was there last National Championship?? Crickets……

What was the last major thing of importance on a National Scale for VA Tech???? Crickets……..

Getting 10 wins a year against teams like Duke, Wake, UNC, NC State, Maryland etc… is not impressive.

On My On

October 31st, 2012
1:39 pm

There’s a reason OU abandoned the wishbone at this level. (It doesn’t work). The kids at other D1 programs are too fast and too aggressive and GT has mediocre QBs who can’t get the ball down field when needed. Scrap that junk offense and start recruiting kids to play in a spread or conventional set like everyone else in the nation does. Then you (GT) might get some talent on the offensive side of the ball and be competitive for 4 QTRs and OT. I’m Just Saying!!

yeller bug

October 31st, 2012
1:40 pm

@btgt69 That’s the only ointment that will salvage this year.

Nice job Ken and as commentors state—the difference in many games is a few plays here or there. When Auburn won their BCS with Cam, there were several games—the missed pass by Clemson et al where they could have lost, but managed to win. Our problem this year is the Reggie Ball complex where we’ve failed, choked, poorly executed in key situations causing a loss. Would consider all 3rd and 4th down plays potential inflection points and statisitically we seem to come up on the short end of the stick too often. The mental mistakes were too high on D and thus Groh was given the boot, but if momentum’s a big deal then that is team psychology and that is the coach’s responsibility. You can’t blame it on underclassman—look at Duke B-ball—they have confidence in Coach K that in any tight situation they’re going to win and they play with that confidence. Perhaps we’ve developed a reverse psychology where we think in close games we’re going to lose and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Momentum is really nonsense. You instill a workmanlike attitude that we just execute on each individual play—each play is a mini-game unto itself—do your assignment at your best and no matter what hole you are in, you can get out and if you are ahead, then you try to bury your opponent into giving up. Let them worry about momentum and morale. Be a ruthless sociopath focused on precision execution. This is not something you can instill during the game when players are doubting or panicking—it needs to be present before the start of the season.

...Take The Wheel

October 31st, 2012
1:41 pm

Maryland’s D may be pretty good but I suspect they will be tired by the 4th quarter from being on the field so much. I read that even though freshmen Shawn Petty was a QB in high school, sources say he looks every bit a linebacker in warm -ups. It should be much easier to prepare for this offense – expect LOTS OF RUNNING!!

Anyways it shouldn’t really matter since we’ll have Vad out there! No defense is a match for his golden arms and legs right?

Georgia DAWGS

October 31st, 2012
1:41 pm

OOOOOooo WEEE Jacket Dad is telling like it is!!

SoCal_GT_Fan

October 31st, 2012
1:42 pm

We can all say that the season hasn’t gone down as we have expected (well almost everyone; ref: WnE)
I for one think some of the players were starting to read and believe some of the articles circulating in the media before the season started. Guys like Darren Waller/Jeff Greene, Jeremiah Attaochu, the offensive line, Louis Young, and etc were all mentioned in articles about “break-out players” or “impact players” or “is our strongest position.” The only guy who I can say has been as good as advertised is Orwin Smith and perhaps Uzzi. Everyone else seems to be performing at a less-than-expected level. Some have been banged up by injuries but others……. Not sure. Did we expect too much from them?
Reminds me of Stephen Hill’s career at Tech. There were high expectations for Hill to assume the lead receiver role after Bey-Bey left for the NFL but he never really got to that level. We knew what he was capable of and we saw flashes of that but he never put it together for us to think that he has arrived and taken the mantel of No.1 receiver (and I being a Jets fan as well, the dropped passes and mental mistakes that had plagued his college career are still being made at the pro level).
The other issue I have is the team’s mental fortitude. I am one of the minorities on this site who thinks the team actually has talent (not UGA type talent but a talented enough team than our record indicates). The play of this team in the first half shows we’ve got the talent to stick with the Clemson’s of the world. But come the 2nd half (specifically the 4th quarter) we get lackadaisical and get drummed. CPJ’s early years, we seem to pick up our level of play in the 2nd half. We knew that if we had a lead with 5 minutes left and we had the ball in our hands that the game was going to be over.
All around it has been a disappointing season with a ton of “what-ifs”. The next couple of games will true show what this team is made of and see if they can gel together to string a couple of wins and at least have a little momentum going into next year.

10per

October 31st, 2012
1:42 pm

Panic? No.

Notice the downward trajectory with little signs of pulling back before hitting the ground?…yes.

Reggie's Balls

October 31st, 2012
1:45 pm

WWW-

By the way don’t compare the two institutions GA Tech and VA Tech. The academic structure is totally different. Just because they both have Tech in the name don’t get the standards confused…..
Troll………..

Booze Hound

October 31st, 2012
1:47 pm

George Stein,

I would love to see O’Leary back at Tech (assuming he didn’t bring Roof with him). Not likely to happen, I know.

SlimG

October 31st, 2012
1:47 pm

All I heard at the beginning was how good this defense was. What happened? Answer, starting playing decent offenses. Vatech is bad this year. Miami, please. Who has Tech played ranked in the Top 25? Nobody. Clemson……..Please…..
Maybe we’ll start teaching Excuse Making 101. Johnson would obviously be the professor.
Where are the W’s? This is unacceptable except at Tech. Gailey did not get this much wiggle room. Why is everyone content to let this clown continue?

Georgia DAWGS

October 31st, 2012
1:49 pm

Enter your comments here

Georgia DAWGS

October 31st, 2012
1:50 pm

I don’t know SlimeG don’t know

BigTimeTECHFan

October 31st, 2012
1:52 pm

I not panicing, I still have Tech in my top 10 this year, They will win the rest

Crazy Robert

October 31st, 2012
1:55 pm

It was time to panic a few weeks ago

CT_Jacket

October 31st, 2012
2:01 pm

There has been a lot made of recruiting. On average, PJ barely recruits better classes than Gailey. But what does it matter? Gailey didn’t accomplish anything great with what he had. We can’t go back to the days of Ross and O’Leary. Since then, the NCAA rules on progress towards a degree have ended the days of “Rocks for Jocks”. Tech’s APR would take a bigger hit if we accepted more marginal student athletes. Yes, other schools get top students too. While we compete with ND, Stanford and Vandy, among others, Tech is a science and engineering school and is viewed as such, even if we have a top business college. That’s our identity, our brand.

Our recruiting class isn’t going to be ranked very high this year either because we’re limited to ~15 players. However, they are almost all three stars with a couple of four stars. If you went by star average, we would just be in the top 25. We’ll hardly ever sign 25+ players to sniff the top 25 on points.

Booze Hound

October 31st, 2012
2:01 pm

Paul Johnson: 18-19 since beating Duke to win the ACC Coastal Division in 2009.

The eighteen wins include Duke twice (barely), Middle Tennesse State twice, South Carolina State, Western Carolina, Presbyterian, Wake Forest (barely), Boston College, and Kansas. His decent wins? Clemson in the 2009 ACC Championship game (since vacated) and an overrated Clemson team again in 2011.

The nineteen losses include Georgia three times, Virginia Tech three times, Miami three times, Clemson twice, Kansas, Middle Tennessee State, and three bowl opponents.

See a pattern?

GIVE ME A BREAK

October 31st, 2012
2:02 pm

Ken, thanks for putting a positive spin on things. I’ll have to give CPJ credit for sacking two DCs and hiring a STC. I think that it would make most fans happy if he would hire a QB coach and let him install some pass plays. Vad has to start the remaining games. There’s still hope. ” GO JACKETS “

Booze Hound

October 31st, 2012
2:08 pm

PJ against the meat of Tech’s schedule:

UGA: 1-3
VT: 1-4
Clemson: 4-2
Miami: 1-4
Bowl Opponents: 0-4

Overall: 7-17

observer

October 31st, 2012
2:08 pm

This business of “ifs” and “almosts” is a litany that is probably familiar to every school with a losing coach. What the season “could have been” is bs..you lost the games because you are poorly coached in all phases. You have 3 wins against 3 of the worst teams in the country, and will probably lose all 4 left. I hope there is a new, qualified AD quickly, and the first thing he does is get Paul Johnson out of here.